The Growth Mindset – A Pathway to Improved Wellbeing
September 5, 2019
Growth is a lifelong process.
Coined by Professor Carol Dweck through her exploration into how and why some individuals thrive and succeed, whilst others don’t, has led to the theory of the two mindsets – “FIXED” VS. “GROWTH”. Simple changes to how we comprehend and perceive, towards that of a more growth-minded way of thinking are considered to be extremely powerful.
The Fixed Mindset
This mindset applies to those who believe that their qualities and traits are unchangeable – that their intelligence, abilities and the ways in which they perform are set in stone. Subsequently any achievements experienced are affirming to these ingrained qualities. As a result, these people are likely to avoid anything that could cause them to look like a failure – such as avoiding challenge, criticism or simply being around others who make them appear less accomplished. Appearing to put in less effort further sustains this feeling of natural talent and ability, feeding the idea that success is something we are born with, as opposed to something that can be developed. It is at the point of superiority being threatened that individuals with the fixed mindset feel the need to run a mile in a bid to protect their self esteem and worth.
In some ways a fixed mindset can be beneficial, however permanently thinking and behaving in this way can be detrimental towards personal development and ultimately – HAPPINESS! To quote Roy Bennett:
“The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure.
If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
The Growth Mindset
The growth mindset essentially opposes the fixed mindset. Individuals maintain the belief that through learning and experience, their intelligence, skills and character can flourish. That through stepping out of our comfort zones, our true potential can be realised as a consequence of stretching ourselves that little bit further and going beyond what we are used to.
It comes down to effort – the harder you work at something in addition to the time you invest, will always lead to progress. So, yes, you might study hard for an exam and attain a below-par result, but it’s within a growth mindset that an individual is able to step back, reflect and learn from it. You feel disappointed and wish for it to have been so much better, but you don’t dwell and beat yourself up with insults and irrational evaluation. You thrive off it – you learn that, “Okay, I was kidding myself, I could have worked a lot harder.” So you work harder, you dedicate more time to revising and work out what your weak areas are, paying closer attention to them, so that they ultimately get stronger. Just like building strength in muscles – these things take time and don’t happen overnight.
Another example, you go for a job interview… you don’t get the job. Within a fixed mindset, our brains are wired into making us believe that there must be something wrong – that we aren’t good enough, intelligent enough, worthy enough. The majority of the time, these thoughts are completely irrational with no evidence to support them. It is through a growth mindset that we can find our increasingly rational selves. We didn’t get the job because we simply don’t have the skills required and the experience necessary… YET. The word “yet” is so important – it reiterates that we don’t have to remain fixed within current situations, and furthermore, that setbacks do not define us.
Thoughts become reality and what you think, you become. Next time you find yourself questioning your self-worth based off the back of something negative, take time to find your inner growth mindset. Instead of thinking…
…”I can’t do this.” think “I can’t do this yet, but I can still try my best.”
…”I’m not good enough.” think “Even if I’m not good at this, I can still have fun doing it, whilst learning a lot.”
…”This is too hard for me. I can’t do this.” think “This might take some time and effort, but I’m sure I can give it a try.”
…”I will never get any better.” think “There is always an opportunity for improvement.”
…”I will never do it perfectly.” think “I’ll embrace the process. I don’t have to do it perfectly to do the best I possibly can. If I gave it my all, I can still be proud even if it didn’t work out the best way.”
Adopting a growth mindset empowers us to explore our potential. It shows that through character, a positive attitude and lots of effort, we open ourselves up to endless opportunities to explore, learn and GROW.